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Emotional van Niekerk just 0.02s away from making history at IAAF 200m final

By Marc Jacobson - Aug 11, 2017
Emotional van Niekerk just 0.02s away from making history at IAAF 200m final

Wayde van Niekerk was a mere 0.02s away from breaking a 21-year double gold 400m/200m drought when he succumbed to a silver-place finish in the IAAF World Championship 200m final at the Olympic Oval in London on Thursday night.

Heading into the race emotionally withdrawn, van Niekerk scraped past the semi-finals, but was still a look-out competitor for the final, and that he was – as in with just a mere 70m stretch to go, the 25-year-old took the lead and looked driven for victory.

Suddenly as the stretch grew shorter, both sprinters beside him, Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev and Trinidad & Tobago’s Jereem Richards, ascended to even out the front-line, as van Niekerk lost it by inches, literally.

Guliyev finished with gold with a time of 20.09s, just ahead of van Niekerk’s 20.11s completion for silver. Also finishing with 20.11s, Richards claimed bronze by a whisker, losing out to van Niekerk by a single millisecond (a thousandth of a second).

With his silver, van Niekerk helped tally SA’s medal count to five, a new record for the country at any IAAF World Championship meeting.

Breaking down in tears in his post-race interview, an emotional van Niekerk proclaimed that this week has been a huge rollercoaster ride for him.

“It was a tough week for myself, I really feel like I’ve worked hard for tonight. Also, after the 400m victory, there were quite a lot of people who felt I didn’t deserve it and I’m glad I was able to come out today and put up a good fight,” van Niekerk told BBC Sport.

“I worked just as hard as every other competitor that I compete against, I show everyone else respect and I feel like I didn't get the respect that I deserved after the 400m.”

“I really believe this is just the beginning of so much that I can achieve,” he added.

Image: Wayde van Niekerk (right) poses with Ramil Guliyev (middle) and Jereem Richards (left).